|Comment count is 18|
|infinite zest |
Nice! Dead Kennedys are, and probably will always be, one of the few great late 70s/80s punk bands that I've never seen. I can accept The Misfits without Danzig, or Black Flag without Morris/Rollins (just barely) but DK without Jello? I even saw The Germs not too long ago with the original line-up except obviously for Crash, and that at least felt more like a tribute, even if it was in part to promote the film.
I don't really follow the story, but I find it pretty ironic that they're all bickering over royalties and shit these days.
Makes me think of expensive Crass merchandise at Hot Topic.
I guess it really doesn't surprise me that Hot Topic would sell Crass, and probably Subhumans, X and other t-shirts (last time I was in a hot topic it was the late 90s and "punk" was just a Sex Pistols and Misfits skull t-shirt and everything else was more-or-less contemporary bands) but it still brings a chill to my spine.
I remember when DK shirts first became popular, and nobody knew a single DK song but wore the fucking shirts anyway. Not even "Holiday in Cambodia" (AKA the song from Tony Hawk Pro Skater.) Kids these days, I tells ya.
Oh wait I lied. I briefly entered a Hot Topic on the off chance that they sold a specific anime DVD my little brother wanted for Christmas this year.. I recall a whole bunch of anime stuff, and really nothing 'punk,' except for a few spiky things. I think they were playing something like Band of Horses too. Maybe it's region to region.
I felt kind of bad for the guy working the counter, who I happened to know outside of his work, and is an awesome guy who plays in a local punk band that kicks ass. It's like I was embarrassed to see him seeing me in a Hot Topic and he was embarrassed to see me seeing him shopping at the Mall.
But when you break it all down, if you've got to work in a Mall, there's a lot of stores that'd be worse than working at a Hot Topic. I assume there's a dress code, but it's under the aesthetic of non-conformity. I'd like to think that a lot of people who work there go home and put on khakis and polo shirts and hit the town.
Ok, replace 'hot topic" with "Spencer Gifts 15 years ago" re; Crass shirts. The point is moe their politics juxtaposed with tee shirts than the specific store the shirts are in. Maybe they don't own the rights to their name and logo and can't actually control that.
Therein lies the Dead Kennedy dialectic. They were a great punk band who could really sell you on their lofty ideals, but they're also corporate whores and Jello Biafra himself is an egomaniacal, hypocritical fathead.
As for Hot Topic, I went in one the other day looking for pony gear. The girl behind the counter was very nice. They were playing Dropkick Murphys (best punk band, discuss) and they had a super fluffy Rainbow Dash bathrobe for sale. I always hated HT as a teenager, because MALLCORE YUCK, but I think now that I'm older and less hip, I'm becoming more tolerant of them. They fill a valid economic niche, and as IZ says, there's probably worse places to work in the mall.
Spencers is still obnoxious as hell, though.
I never really cared for Dropkick Murphys back in high school.. I was a Portland kid into Poison Idea, The Wipers, Dead Moon etc. and Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, all that stuff represented the other side of the world to me, even though I liked the Pogues. Plus I always got that skinhead vibe, before I understood that there's more to being a skin/suede/etc. head than any Nationalist ideology. I like Black Flag, and plenty of Skinheads would show up there too.
Anyway they were playing a free show in Madison, the first week I was in school in a new town with zero friends. So I was like "fuck it" and went and it was packed. You didn't have to be a student to go and a lot of people there and it was the rowdiest pit I've ever been in. At one point I got picked up and thrown by someone face-first onto the ground, which nearly broke my nose. A group of skinheads built a circle around me and helped me up, as I was bleeding on my Rainer Maria shirt (yes, Rainer Maria). Imagine the exact opposite of a skinhead and that was me at 18- I was expecting the worst, like "oh fuck they're just protecting me now so they can kick my ass later" but they turned out giving me napkins and a few swigs of their whiskey. We smoked cigarettes afterwords.
That night altered many of my misconceptions, not just of the Dropkick Murphys (who, by the way, ended with a Nick Cave cover) but of humanity in general, and the true meaning of punk. So yeah.. they're not my favorite punk band but definitely a source of a wonderful memory.
I'm an East Coast kid and Dropkick had just started hitting it big when I was in highschool, so they had a few pluses already. There was a general feeling that they were getting "commercial" (you know, typical indie-hipster bullshit) and I was a metalhead, so marking for a punk band was a bit out of bounds, but I loved bagpipes and mandolins so fuck it, says I. Besides, I didn't have many genuine hometown heroes, except for Hatebreed, but Hatebreed blows ass. So the Murphys it was.
The Murphys are a really decent group of people, and all my experiences with their fans have been positive. They're fairly political, but they don't really get in your face about it (like SOME political punk bands do!), and it's a solid, working class, unions-and-family kinda vibe, which feels a lot more authentic than the tofu vegan yippie bullshit you usually see from political punks. And musically, they're really fun; they're not the most Irish (Pogues fans often look down on them for that reason), they're not the most Punk (other punks, as Pogues fans above), but they strike a good balance.
Also, they moved to me to tears with the whole Last Letter Home thing. If you never heard of that, you should DuckDuckGo it up. It was a tribute to a fan who was killed in combat over in Iraq - he'd written a letter to his family shortly before, mentioning how much he loved DKM's song, The Fields of Athenry, and how he wanted it played at his funeral. His mom sent the band his letter, and they not only wrote a song about him, they even played at the guy's funeral.
As much as I like the Dead Kennedys, I really doubt Jello would have done something like that.
Black Flag I never really got into, but I'm totally gay for Henry Rollins (no homo). He was a prep school kid, like me, so even though I couldn't bench half of what he could, young me always liked to project myself into his shoes.
Miss Henson's 6th grade class
Sorry, Homer, but I think the Dropkick Murphys are probably on my list for worst punk band ever. I listened, or listen, occasionally, to punk precisely because it sounded fresh and new: it had a sense of discovery that most post-1967 classic rock just lacks. The Murphys seems to be punk for nostalgics, and while I guess you could draw some sort of social comparison between oi and that sort of thing as far as white, working class unity music, I'm not from the old neighborhood, even if my grandfather was an Irish truck driver and a union member. The Pogues, since they've been brought up, managed to sound vicious whithout ever plugging in, and I can really respect that. The Murphys seem to be the epitome of that shamrocks-and-beer kitsch that seems to be most of what's left of the Irish-American experience. Sure political punks can be preachy and annoying, but some of them still seem to be making an effort to smash pop music into bits and build something interesting with its smoking remains. That's what I'm in it for.
I get what you're saying, and I respect your opinion; it's the old not Punk enough/ not Irish enough thing. But I'd have to disagree with your assessment of the band as being all shamrocks and beer. They have a few songs about beer (because why not?!) but no songs about shamrocks, and the bulk of their catalog deals with either the traditional punk themes of youthful rebellion and solidarity (especially on their early albums) or with a remarkably broad and nuanced look at the Irish experience and the working class, both historically and today. I don't think you can accuse "The Fields of Athenry" of being just some culturally-reductionist shamrock anthem, for example.
And getting away from Dropkick, another thing that bothers me is this whole punk-rock preoccupation with "smashing pop music". I alluded to this before (the " typical indie-hipster bullshit") but I guess I'll take a minute now to expand that idea.
See, the problem I have is, punk rock IS pop music! For one thing, punk, like pop, has been a bit of a /corporate put-on/ ever since the very start; the Sex Pistols, the Ur punk band against which all punk bands are now measured, they were a manufactured boy band, really not that different from Avril Lavigne.
Punk, like pop, relies heavily on /image/ in order to sell it's product; in punk's case, the image it's expected to present is one of independence and edginess. Case in point, the Pogues, whom as you say, "managed to sound vicious whithout ever plugging in". _That_ is an image the Pogues project, it's part of their brand, and it doesn't matter if their songs aren't actually all that good, it doesn't mater if Shane MacGowan has a tin ear and a shitty work ethic, what matters is that they *seem* vicious and authentic.
And finally, punk, like pop, is /musically very simple and unchallenging/, particularly when looked at from the perspective of a prog metal fan. Punk is all about basic chord progressions and sing-along lyrics that can be enjoyed by drunk people with short attention spans. It's all very proletarian and easy to digest, and punks actually consider this to be a GOOD thing. I admit, punk does deal with different themes than more conventional pop music, like Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber- again, punk is "edgier" than other forms of pop music, and with punk you tend to see songs about rebelling against your parents or barfing in an alley, rather than songs about dating a cheerleader or kissing your sweetheart. But this is really the ONLY significant difference between punk and straight vanilla pop, and it is a difference that's born from punk's marketing strategy; punk bands target a different sociological niche from vanilla pop. They are The Spice Girls for antisocial kids.
____And none of this is a bad thing!____
Pop music, like punk music, has it's place in the great scheme of life. Not every band needs to be Liszt or Opeth or Dream Theater in order to have value. Sometimes, people just want to kick back and listen to something simple, something stupid, something FUN. So I guess what I'm trying to say is, why the hate? Pop and punk have more in common than they like to admit, and I think they should be friends.
Miss Henson's 6th grade class
Okay, Homer, so you've given me a lot to work with here. First off, I'll agree with you, more or less, when you say that punk rock is/was if not a complete corporate put-on, difficult to separate from its image. But this is true of all forms of pop music -- the music, the album covers, the clothes, the dancing, the literature, the scene. It's difficult to separate any of this in isolation, and ambiance and image. These tend to be parts of a complementary lifestyle and worldview: nobody listens to anything just for the music. I don't know if you meant this as a knock on punk, but I don't think it is, really. Every single genre or subgenre you could name works this way. Comparing the Pistols to Avril Levine? Harsh, and probably a bit too far, but Malcom McLaren did more or less put the group together, Johnny Lydon was an art-school kid that hung around retro-rockabilly clothing shops. The Pistols at least did it better than Levine did, though I suspect that they were better live than on record. Or maybe not "better." Maybe their concerts were more fun than their records?
I'll agree with you, in a way, with your "punk is pop" statement. Of course, I think you've got to look at this in a historical context. In the late seventies, demanding short, sharp two-minute riffs was something of a change: I admire punk's decision to free itself of rock's legacy acts, which must have seemed sort of burdensome by that point, and to quit pretending that they were hippie/bluesman/shaman types. In a world where people actually thought that Jethro Tull was listenable, demanding a good pop tune RIGHT NOW instead of another tedious eight-minute pseudo-blues noodlefest elevates aural pleasure as a value in precisely the same way that old-fashioned pop music does. I think, in a sense, that writing a song about hanging out with your friends in a supermarket parking lot seems like a more honest than doing whatever Jimmy Page was doing by 1977. It's not that punk doesn't import its own bullshit much of the time, but at least it does try for a sort of directness, and that resonates with me.
Lastly, I think when talking about punk, it's best to keep the concept of "signifying practice" in mind -- what does all of this punk stuff -- the clothes, the music, the attitude, the fanzines -- do? Speaking personally, punk values include a commitment to exploring new sounds, a disregard for technical perfection, a commitment to the homemade over the polished, and a certain kind of honesty. It also implies a worldview that reflects a belief that the world is a relatively chaotic, dangerous, and exhilarating place: whatever else it is, punk is stuff for anti-traditionalists. Sure, in many cases, all the music did was repackage old Chuck Berry riffs and old surf-rock songs, but the way it did it: the approach it took to all of these things, is important. It goes beyond musical labels and into discussion of the emotional, often unarticulated sources of the music and the sort of cultural products that its practitioners borrowed to make it with. Stooges not Beatles, B-grade horror films, S/M subculture, Taxi Driver, teen pop culture, comic books, dada, the situationists, all that jazz. Most of it recent, most of it unsubtle, most of it trashy, much of it representing a radical break with the past, most of it very now. This alternate cannon, if we can call it that, is part of what makes punk rock punk rock. It's a matter of attitude and perspective, at the end of the day, and that's quite the same as calling it shallow, though I think punk was pretty aware of its own transience.
This is really why I can't get behind stuff like the Dropkick Murphys. When I listen to a punk band, I don't want to hear a "remarkably broad and nuanced look at the Irish experience." That's a job for a folk band -- which is, incidentally, what I'd consider the Pogues, more or less, even if they might have been a bit punked up. I like Op Ivy's record, but I've got the same complaints about most of Rancid's stuff -- those guys seem more interested in preserving a sound than in exploring new sonic territory; they've got too much respect for their fore-bearers, even if their fore-bearers are the Clash. Punks don't need oldies.
So I don't think the Murphys do what I look to punk bands to do. Other stuff that a lot of people don't call punk makes the grade, though: Liquid Liquid, Crystal Castles, a lot of that late eighties early rave techno that just sizzled with energy: I listen to that stuff and think "they've got it!"
Also, I should note that punk isn't all I listen to these days, even if it was the lion's share of what I listened to as a teen. Not all of my music has to do the same thing. I love psychedelic stuff and ambient techno and reggae and dub and Tori Amos's first two records. I'm speaking as a punk listener here, and sort of as the punk listener that I used to be. Anyway, love to hear a response from you, it's nice to chat.
As a native California I can't wait for the day to dance on Diane Fiensteins grave.
She looked sad when Milk got shot. That's about the only nice thing I can say for her. And she helped prove that women can be evil senators too.
Yay for DK, good performance. Loving the no-need-for-bouncers crowd, compared to what you'd see in most any club today. These kids hop up, dance 3 seconds, go around and dive off, without trying to hug and kiss the band members, because they have an inkling of sense. Any kid gets up now, they're in a desperate race against the heat, so I guess they try and get away with all they can before they get tossed back or dragged off.
Was it lawsuits & insurance companies that ruined this for everyone? I suppose it must have been. How much more sense would this society make if there was an expectation that if you showed up in court for getting hurt while doing something inherently dumb like jumping off a stage onto the heads of spectators, or playing around in a construction yard or some other fenced-off area, that you'd be laughed out; that the only thing to talk about was how did this case get through the cracks and not get stopped at paperwork stage.
Also they took away all the cool kid-endangering features at the cool park where I grew up, though admittedly the replacements are pretty cool. But there's an old, coal-burning, iron train engine and hopper that kids used to clamber around on, and now it's fenced off, to be ignored from a few feet away. It made for a pretty cool jungle gym, but it was iron so some kid must have ever cracked his head on something, and so his shitty parents had to make sure no child ever enjoyed climbing on it again.
Ray, are you done tuning yet?
Things still get pretty rowdy at most of the shows I see.. the one time I was pissed enough to think about doing something was when my then-wife and I were at King Kahn and the Shrines, and she's short so she was in the front, and the keyboardist jumped into the crowd, and crawling back on stage his boot slipped kicking her in the face, breaking her glasses. Other than that she wasn't hurt (it went right down the middle but the glasses were immediately stomped upon and broken.) They're still one of my favorite bands but it just sucked because the night was ruined, at least for her.
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